Defense of Marriage Act

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law passed in 1996 that both created a federal definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and expressly gave states permission to refuse to recognize marriages entered into by same-sex couples in other jurisdictions. The part of DOMA that defines marriage at the federal level – known as Section 3 – was a radical departure from 220 years of federal practice, which was to rely on each state to define marriage and to recognize any marriage legally entered into under state law as a valid marriage for federal purposes.

We are challenging Section 3 of DOMA on behalf of our client Edie Windsor in Windsor v. United States, which is currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. In June, the Court will rule on whether DOMA violates equal protection by treating married gay couples as unmarried in over 1,100 federal programs.

We're Going to The Supreme Court! The Supreme Court Takes Review of DOMA and Prop 8!

We're Going to The Supreme Court! The Supreme Court Takes Review of DOMA and Prop 8!

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:00am

Today the Prop 8 case (Perry) is being argued before the Supreme Court and tomorrow the ACLU will be there challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act on behalf of Edie Windsor....

ACLU Urges Critical LGBT and HIV/AIDS Updates to 2012 Democratic National Platform

ACLU Urges Critical LGBT and HIV/AIDS Updates to 2012 Democratic National Platform

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:20pm

The ACLU has been invited to offer our civil liberties and civil rights recommendations to the Democratic National Committee’s “platform drafting committee,” which is currently meeting in Minneapolis to begin the process of putting…

New Legislation Addresses Need for Equal Treatment of Military Spouses

New Legislation Addresses Need for Equal Treatment of Military Spouses

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 2:41pm

Just in time for Independence Day, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the senior Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, has introduced the Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act (H.R. 6046).  This important legislation would ensure equality…

DOMA Repeal Vote Represents a Critical Shift

DOMA Repeal Vote Represents a Critical Shift

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:36pm

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 in support legislation that would fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Going West: Looking Forward to Realizing the Promise of California

Going West: Looking Forward to Realizing the Promise of California

By James Gilliam, ACLU of Southern California at 2:42pm

Two years ago, my best friend asked me to officiate at her wedding. It was an honor to play that special role in her life, and I loved doing it. But standing before the crowd, I was struck by the unfortunate irony of the situation: Even as I married my friend and her husband, I could not marry my own partner. I decided that hers would be the last wedding I attended until I had the freedom to have my own.

Today at the Supreme Court: Ms. Windsor Goes to Washington

Today at the Supreme Court: Ms. Windsor Goes to Washington

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 7:55am

I'm writing from DC, where "Team Edie" has spent the last few days in intense preparations for today's Supreme Court oral arguments in Edie Windsor's challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Edie's case presents a straightforward question…

How the ACLU Helped Get Us To Today's Marriage Moment

How the ACLU Helped Get Us To Today's Marriage Moment

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project at 12:06pm

As the Supreme Court takes up the challenge to California's Prop 8 today, and the ACLU's challenge to DOMA tomorrow, it's clear that we've reached a tipping point on marriage for same-sex couples. Public opinion on this issue has reached approval levels…

A Conservative Rabbi's Case for Marriage Equality

A Conservative Rabbi's Case for Marriage Equality

By Jan Uhrbach, Rabbi at 2:09pm

I'm a rabbi, so I support marriage equality. My support of marriage equality is an expression of my faith...

What The Windsor Case Means To Me And My Family

What The Windsor Case Means To Me And My Family

By Robert H., Teen Activist Project Member, NYCLU at 12:09pm

What marriage equality has meant to me and my family has changed greatly over our lives. When my parents were born, in the mid-1950s, the idea of ever having an open, public discussion of sexual orientation seemed impossible, and marriage for gay and…

What the Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear a Challenge to DOMA Should Mean for Same-Sex Bi-National Couples

What the Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear a Challenge to DOMA Should Mean for Same-Sex Bi-National Couples

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:41pm

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Edie Windsor’s challenge to the discriminatory, so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Despite the fact that Edie and her late spouse, Thea Spyer, were together for more than four decades and…

Statistics image